The Head of Agriculture Division, ECOWAS Commission Abuja, Mr Ernest Aubee says harmonisation of Organic Agriculture standards in West Africa will help grow trade in the region.
Aubee made the assertion during an online presentation on the `Benefits and Opportunities of Organic Agriculture’ organised by Journalists Go Organic Initiative.
He said that there is a need for harmonised Organic Standards for Participatory Guaranteed System (PGS) activities in West Africa to encourage quality regional trade.
“The standards will enhance the visibility of organic agriculture and market driven development of the sector in the whole region.
“Key in this regard are diversity of produce, simplicity of the process, empowerment of farmers, development of sustainable agriculture, easy access to standardised produce and products.
“This will also lead to awareness of health benefits of organic products, easy access in sharing of practical experience, the possibility of an expanded market and premium for producers.”
He said that it will also enhance better organisation of stakeholders, better management of value change, promotion and increase in the supply of organic produce and products, among other benefits in the region.
Aubee, who is also the Chairman, Regional Steering Committee for Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative, West Africa, added that the harmonised standards will increase the interest of policy makers.
“It will improve the economy of West Africa as a result of the trade in organic produce, and also increase the demand for organic agriculture produce in the region.
“It will equally improve in the livelihoods of actors in the organic agriculture value chain in the region through job and wealth creation’’.
He noted that the West Africa Organic Network (WAfrONet) is working with stakeholders to make sure that the dream of having harmonised standards in the region becomes a reality.
“The first public presentation to stakeholders and review took place March 15 – 18, 2021 while the presentation of the update on the process took place during the 6th West Africa Organic Conference in November, 2021 in Burkina Faso.
“Right now, the draft of the harmonised standards and reports has been transmitted to the ECOWAS Commission for further technical and political actions.
“And the final version of the ECOWAS-led Harmonised Organic Standards in West Africa is expected to be ready in 2022’’, he assured.
Aubee, therefore called for the engagement of political leaders into organic agriculture business as it has better opportunity when governments intervene in the development of the organic agriculture sector.